Though its dining room is in the heart of Yonkers, La Bella Havana's food transports diners straight to Cuba with the chefs' homestyle Caribbean cooking. Drawing equal inspiration from the land and sea, hearty comfort foods include sauteed chorizo with fried plantain chips, empanadas with a variety of fillings, and massive servings of paella that the New York Times hailed as "the real deal: stuffed with seafood, chorizo and chicken, full of flavor and cooked to perfection." The drink menu similarly embraces its Cuban roots with hand-blended mojitos and other potent tropical cocktails.
But Cuba's presence inside the restaurant also goes beyond the edibles to its island-inspired decor. The walls give the appearance of rustic, exposed brickwork peeking through plaster and a glance upward yields ceiling fans and their distinctively leaf-shaped blades. Even the bar area is shaded by a thatched straw canopy, which shields the bartenders from the imported Cuban sunshine.
Warm earth tones and dark wooden trim lend a casual elegance to the dining room at Dúo Tapas Bar & Lounge, an elegance that is mirrored by the menu of refined finger foods. The chefs draw inspiration from Latin, Thai, American, and Italian cuisine as they forge small, tapas-style plates for diners' tables. They top the cuban sliders' roast pork and sliced ham with mustard rémoulade and accompany the tempura shrimp with a sweet chili sauce. Crispy, thin-crust pizzas emerge from the oven with familiar toppings of basil or hot sausage or spreads of non-traditional pizzeria ingredients, including pulled pork and barbecue sauce or shrimp and garlic butter.
The restaurant embraces its lounge roots after sunset, hosting occasional DJ sets and live bands in its space and encouraging guests to practice their best moves on the dance floor. Five televisions flanking the full-service bar entertain patrons as they sip mixed drinks or stuff a love note to the bartender into a cocktail olive.
Every weekend, the soulful notes of blues bands fill the air of the casual, Zagat-rated eatery with lively and exciting ballads. National acts such as Popa Chubby, CJ Chenier, and Jeffrey Gaines complement the sounds of tribute bands as well as Monday open mic participants. Having first opened in 1991 in Westchester with a Ridgefield location opened in 2013, experienced chefs in the kitchen orchestrate dishes of spicy jambalaya, boiled crawfish, and exotic alligator sausage that are every bit as expressive and flavorful as the tunes they complement. Dishes arrive with steam still curling into the air, awaiting diner's selection from a menu of 100 gourmet hot sauces that customize dishes with fiery flavors of habanero peppers, smoked chipotles, peach and vidalia onion, and dragon tears. Bayou’s chefs also whip up their creole food for special events with their catering services.
Rainwater Grill's patrons unwind in dining room that a 2010 New York Times article praised for its neighborhood feel and elegant décor. Amid natural stone accents and a gently burbling waterfall, servers deliver upscale American dishes such as grilled new york strip steak and a Fisherman’s Wharf seafood cioppino rife with sautéed clams, mussels, and calamari in a spicy saffron tomato broth. Diners can choose a beverage to complement their means with ease: the restaurant offers numerous wine-pairing suggestions for every entrée on the menu. In the lounge area, bartenders mix martinis for patrons who eschew the dining room in favor of watching one of the four high-definition televisions or listening to live music.
Whether it's the family history, the spices, or the fresh ingredients that give Don Coqui's food its flavor, the results have the potential to dazzle the taste buds. Classic Puerto Rican dishes and American staples sit side-by-side on the expansive menu—though it's nothing compared to the wine list—with braised oxtail and plantain-crusted red snapper sailing to tables as swiftly as the rib and chicken combo and the porterhouse for two. Abuelita's tres leches cake and coconut flan with a deep caramel glaze add a hint of indulgence at the tail end of evenings, and wines from far-flung locales can be savored by the glass, bottle, or incredibly tiny spoon.
The Rodriguez culinary dynasty was born in the Bronx, where Jimmy Rodriguez, Sr. set up shop beneath a bridge and sold fresh seafood to passersby. Jimmy Rodriguez, Jr. took his father's love of food and doubled down, opening beloved restaurants across the city. Both his recipes and his passion inspired his children, who've turned that passion into the Don Coqui restaurants. Each aims to be a place where food, wine, and salsa dancing bring people together—something of a family tradition. It's like bowling on Christmas Eve, only better and with more paella. Their flavors have also made them a "Worth It" dining destination by the The New York Times.
During Puerto Rico's long history, Spanish, Tainos, and African cultures have contributed to the country's culinary tradition, leaving behind cuisine defined by exotic spices and simple cooking styles such as braising and grilling. After visiting the island and sampling many dishes themselves, Siete Ocho Siete’s owners wanted to honor the tastes of the island’s globe-hopping flavors. At their restaurant, chefs designed menus that highlight Puerto Rico’s signature ingredients: the alcapurria’s taro root and plantains arrive stuffed with seasoned ground beef, and the chillo entero al volante presents a whole red snapper filled with fragrant coconut rice. Meals arrive in an interior shot through with festive decor: the walls are brightly painted, umbrellas peek out of frosty cocktails, and tables dress up in freshly pressed white cloths. On some nights, the lilt of live musicians regales diners with mid-meal music, and a wave room with bay views supplies a romantic setting for dates or mermaids catching a meal between shifts.